Another ex-fattie scolding those who haven’t managed the same

Charming title: Face it, fatty, your genes are innocent

The Times columnist India Knight has, of course, co-authored a book (and related cookbook) about losing 5 stone a few years ago and has a website for weight-loss support which advertises the books. In an astounding example of unexamined attitudes, she also has this pull-quote from her other site, about parenting a child with special needs, as part of her Times bio:

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt through having a child with special needs, it is not to judge other people in a similar boat

But she’ll judge people in a similar boat if that boat is a fat boat.

I imagine many Shapelings have already sent a link to this to Kate Harding and Co by now. I’ll link to Shapely Prose’s response when it comes up.

I particularly wanted to address this argument:

Fat gene, my foot. Funny how it seems to manifest itself only in the prosperous, cake-guzzling carb-and-sugar-laden West

No, that’s not funny at all, that’s a result of our material prosperity in the West, just as you imply. It is a result of people who have higher metabolic demands being more likely to live in the affluent West than they are likely to survive in the poorer nations. Obviously, in cases of famine, people with a higher metabolic rate are going to starve faster than people with a lower rate, and die in larger numbers.

So, more people surviving than otherwise would is somehow a bad thing simply because some of those people who survive will stack on some fat and not conform to the beauty standard? Would it be better for them to be thin and dead rather than alive and fat?

Harsh, India. Very harsh.

Categories: health, social justice

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7 replies

  1. That poor woman. She’s so sheltered she’s never learned anything about the rest of the world. What a shame.
    And Rio Iriri has a great rebuttal to the “no fat people in Africa/concentration camps/etc” “argument”.
    La di Da’s last blog post..Yoga: awesome

  2. That’s a great link, La-Di-Da. I particularly like commentor Eve’s response:

    What I thought about was: in a population where everyone gets enough to eat, some are going to be fat. If everyone doesn’t get enough to eat over a long period of time, they will all become thin and suffer from malnutrition. The first population is the healthy one, not the second.

  3. What is it with the Brits today? There’s another column in the Guardian:,,2255854,00.html
    It’s not as bad … just by a woman who says “it’s ok to be fat … but not as fat as I am, so I’m going to lose weight by diet and exercise and write a fortnightly column about it!”
    She’s not going to weigh herself, so that makes it all ok.
    It’s interesting, because it seems that her main motivation for losing weight is that she is having trouble fitting into seats; she gave up an opportunity to go paragliding because she was afraid they wouldn’t have a suit big enough; that sort of thing. Rather than blame THEM for not making things big enough, she blames herself for being too big!
    Jo Tamar’s last blog post..Because we’ve got our priorities straight

  4. That’s an ambivalent column if I’ve ever read one, Jo. There’s a lot to like in what Kira denounces there.
    The bottom line comes down to the fact that she’s put on sufficient weight that she is finding herself feeling unhealthy and limited. Welcome to Health At Every Size, Kira!
    Absolutely she should work towards finding her healthy setpoint, which may well involved her losing some of the weight that she is currently carrying. Finding her healthy setpoint does not however mean that she will end up thin. I hope she can accept that.

  5. Yes, health is, according to her, her motivation – but *again*, she talks about how it’s hard for her to feel motivated to be active while she’s fatter than she would like, which seems to me to be at least a sort of “I’m too fat, and it’s terrible”. And again, she’s blaming herself and not the culture which makes her feel bad for being fat. That really is what got to me about the article … it’s like she’s *almost* there, she can see there’s a problem with the culture, but she still blames herself and not it!
    Ambivalent is a good word. She seems particularly ambivalent about being out of the “God I’m so fat tell me I’m not fat” competition – as in, she never liked it, but she seems vaguely wistful about it now (it’s something I know Kate talks about a lot: “I’m fat” “but you’ve got lovely skin!” being the classic example, of course!).
    And I’m totally with you that I hope she can accept her healthy weight for what it is. Hmm, I wonder how long it will take for her to consider herself “fit enough”? You can actually get reasonably fit within a month or six weeks, and if it’s a fortnightly column …

  6. Oh, while we’re on fat and diets:

    ’Diet’ foods weight gain puzzle
    A study which showed that rats fed on artificial sweetener still put on weight has baffled researchers.
    The researchers wrote in the journal: “The data clearly indicate that consuming a food sweetened with no-calorie saccharin can lead to greater body-weight gain and adiposity than would consuming the same food sweetened with higher calorie sugar.”
    One theory, they said, was that, in normal conditions, the arrival of a sweet taste in the mouth helped prime the metabolism for the arrival of a calorie-heavy, sweet meal into the digestive system.
    When the meal does not arrive, they said, the body may get confused and have more trouble regulating its appetite when other food is around.

  7. What got me about this article was her assumption that obesity manifests itself “only in the […] West”. That statement is simply not true. What’s more, there are indeed fat people in Ethiopia. This woman has no clue.
    Her vested interest in disbelieving the genetics study is blindingly obvious, as you have pointed out in the original post. She is selling a diet book.

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